Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Smith explores how one of our major clients is driving learning engagement within their organisation…
For the past three months Unicorn and Paragon Group have been working on a project to re-launch their E-hub (Unicorn LMS) with an update to the homepage and addition of a Career Area.
The move to Theme Builder allows Paragon access to the sliding banner within their portal, which is used to highlight what’s new on the platform:
New additions to the platform, available after the relaunch, include a new ‘My Career’ informational page with links to key resources and video clips of staff that have progressed internally. The Learning and Development team have also created eCreator courses with tips and advice as support tools for staff looking to progress.
New portlets have been added to the homepage to highlight what is on offer to staff, these include: ‘My Career’ – to access the page noted above.
An Appraisal Portlet making the appraisal forms easier to access.
CPD is now configured and a portlet added to highlight staff progress and allow them to add relevant activities to the log should they wish.
The final new addition is the Learning Heroes content. This library is available so that staff have easy access to a range of subjects as and when they want (including topics covering health and safety, personal development, project management and more.) This is Paragon Group’s first step into offering ‘pull’ style learning to staff, and signals a real move into offering a ‘one stop’ shop for staff looking to develop.
To ensure staff engaged with the new look E-hub the L&D team has organised road show events at each of the company’s key locations. As the Paragon’s Senior Relationship Manager, I joined them at their Solihull Branch for the first event.
The event was a great opportunity to hear first-hand what staff thought of the new additions to the platform and the response was overwhelming positive. A few people admitted they only ever used the platform to complete mandatory training but the extra learning available gives them a new reason to check it out.
The L&D team have also set up an initiative that anyone who completes a Learning Heroes course within the first month will be entered into a prize draw. This was deemed a real incentive to try out the courses for the staff that dropped by. The prize draw is a great example of a simple yet effective way to increase engagement with the content and the platform.
The drop-in event lasted 4 hours with laptops set up in the foyer and an email sent around to let staff know that we were there to answer questions. With the added bonus of chocolate for anyone we spoke to the four hours passed quickly with a constant stream of people interested in what we were showing.
If anything, from a Senior Relationships Manger’s point of view, I really saw how a simple explanation from the L&D team about what E-hub offers really changed people’s perceptions of the platform.
Talking to the L&D team they mentioned that staff surveys and feedback had driven the need to add additional resources. Staff had mentioned that additional learning would be useful and a central career area would be of interest. Seeing that action had been taken on the feedback was well received and positive comments included:
‘Looks great and a lot more user friendly’
‘Really like the look of the new areas’
‘There’s so much more on e-hub now’
‘These changes have really created a one-stop shop’
‘I can’t wait to try some of the Learning Hero courses – I have been looking for something like this since I started here’
It has been great working with the Paragon L&D team and Steph Rufino (Unicorn Project Manager) to launch the Career Area and additional functionality, and I wish Paragon every success in engaging the rest of the business with the initiatives.
As an SRM at Unicorn I always look for opportunities to work with my customers to make enhancements to their platform like this a reality. I truly believe that to drive value through the Unicorn LMS you have to look at how your staff engage with what is on offer and not be afraid to highlight tools and support that’s available within your business.
Engaging staff in their own development and offering tools to support this always gets positive feedback and there are really easy ways to achieve this with the LMS.
Whatever industry you work in, unconscious bias is a topic that has the power to affect us all. Every day, we make decisions about the way we conduct our business lives – from who we hire, to who we promote to leadership positions.
Whilst these decisions should be made fairly, sometimes unthinking prejudices and preconceptions have the power to affect our judgement in a negative way. Despite the best of intentions, our unconscious bias affects the way we weigh up choices and make selections, and has a huge impact on the way certain groups or individuals are treated.
Often, mitigating the impact of unconscious bias is a simple matter of raising awareness amongst your personnel. What’s more, we’ve just added Unconscious Bias to our brand new Workplace Skills library, so the resources you need are just a few clicks away!
Crafted in the signature style of our content partners, Learning Heroes, this title gives a characterful and holistic view of the topic of unconscious bias, as well as offering tips on what you can do to combat it. Find out more about Workplace Skills from Learning Heroes and request a demo of this or any other course here.
We can’t quite believe it’s been nearly four months since our last Client Forum, but we’re delighted to announce that we’ll be back this October for another one!
Having run these events bi-annually for the past four years, we’ve learnt a fair bit about what makes a successful forum, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming both old and new faces to this next exclusive date.
The Autumn Forum is a unique opportunity to explore our solutions in more depth, and learn how other HR, L&D and Risk Management professionals across a number of sectors are leveraging digital technology to solve their learning challenges.
With a rage of sessions covering platform functionality, content and industry discussion, the day aims to showcase real client case studies – giving attendees an insight into practical ways to approach their company learning. Instead of offering the kind of lofty general discussion that we often see from learning and development events, the Autumn Forum aims to demystify some of the industry’s latest ‘buzzwords’, and offer delegates practical insight into how to start incorporating new trends into their own L&D journeys.
This Autumn, the Unicorn Client Forum will take place on Tuesday 4th October in the heart of Canary Wharf, and will be brought to you in partnership with our apps studio, Amuzo. The day will be split into main room welcome and keynote sessions, and registration-only breakouts that will give attendees access to specialist slots run by our experts.
More information coming soon. If you have a specific query relating to the Unicorn Forum, please contact your Relationship Manager, or the Unicorn Marketing Department. This is an invite-only event.
At Unicorn we are always committed to finding the next generation of talent. Here, Bournemouth University student Jenade shares her 6-week experience working as a Marketing Assistant.
Six weeks ago I started my placement at Unicorn Training Group Ltd and it has been nothing like I ever expected. I thought I was well equipped for the real working world, being a Communications and Media undergraduate from Bournemouth University. However, my time at Unicorn has shown me that books and lectures only take you part of the way.
Unicorn staff are lovely and had a genuine interest in my career path. Everyone has smiles for miles, as if that wasn’t enough I felt so welcomed to find out the role was specially tailored to suit me. Working as an Internal Marketing Assistant was interestingly varied and advanced well from my course teachings.
Unicorn is a rapidly progressing business, this however, can impact how communications are spread, as it becomes harder to keep track of who knows what. I met with Jackie Kennedy (COO) and we thought the introduction of a quarterly internal magazine would help to keep all staff in the loop.
Despite my nerves and reservations, Unicorn were enthusiastic and trusted me with the big responsibility of producing the first edition of the magazine- Connected +. My role was to ensure that all staff in both the Bournemouth and London branch are informed of news they may be unaware of. By featuring articles from a wide spectrum of the business, we hope Connected + will transcend the city borders to bring the Unicorn family together.
Being in a busy and dynamic environment, it was important to be flexible and adaptable especially when working around staff schedules and workloads. I spent the majority of my time working with the HR and Training Team but there was always a friendly and passionate Unicorn around the corner.
Although, Connected+ was my main focus, I was given the opportunity to take part in exciting events that I’ve never done before. Such as the UCL Airport simulation game testing (thank you Peter Phillips, Jackie Kennedy, Gemma Blackaller and Team 5!). With fresh insight into the Induction programme, I was encouraged to evaluate the current process and identify areas for improvements. During this time, Abi Pears (Marketing Manger) also encouraged me to review some of the Unicorn platforms including the website, blogs and social media footprint.
When the sunshine finally reached Bournemouth, I didn’t ever feel like I was missing out, especially with treats like these to look forward to:
Unfortunately, we hit some bumps along the way and we weren’t able to Launch the magazine during my time here but all our hard work won’t go to waste and I have no doubt that we will see the finished product sooner than you think. Don’t fear, if I have missed you out (I’m sorry!) Connected+ is ongoing project that anyone can get involved in so feel free to send Shaun Hickman a message to be a part of the Autumn Issue.
Joining Unicorn has been an instrumental part of my personal development and I only wish I had the time to meet everyone during my time here. This placement encouraged me to come out of my comfort zone and challenged my capabilities in range of topics. It has improved my confidence and developed my experience in writing and editing as well as marketing and graphic design.
Finally, I’d just like to give a big Unicorn thank you to everyone that have made my experience one to remember!
That’s the behemoth that is Learning Technologies over for the next year, and as always it provided an eye opener or two on many different fronts.
So what did we learn from the 2016 exhibition and conference? Here’s our top 5….
The eLearning industry is thriving – LTs felt properly busy this year, not just in terms of visitors but exhibition stands too. As technologies continue to be intrinsically intertwined with education – regardless of sector – it’s little wonder the big hitters and newcomers alike are seeing the potential in the marketplace. The enduring question for each business remains however, of how do you differentiate yourself and give people something that really stands out? Asides from the biggest players, walking around the exhibition there were few stands really, really clear in what they offered different. There are still some smoke and mirrors out there, things might be looking very shiny, but underneath there are still some weaknesses in usability.
Silo thinking still exists within the L&D, HR, Talent, Learning Tech space – businesses are still not even talking to other areas of the business, never mind ensuring the UX is seamless when it comes to the technology. “We only look after the HR side”, “Someone else manages the LMS”, “That’s the talent team’s role”, “Compliance take care of their own content on a different platform”…..etc. The reality is the best integrated solutions can do it all, but this must be recognised from the top.
The talent pool in the market is struggling to keep up with the growth – while it is always lovely to catch up with old buddies in the industry at LTs, where were the new faces? We did meet a few newbies making a big impression in the work they are doing, but more still needs to be done to attract talent, and to improve the skills and knowledge in our sector.
Learning and development is struggling to keep pace with technological change – with technology evolving quicker than even most developers can keep up with what chance, really, have the L&D community got? Embracing new technologies in businesses can often involve major culture change, challenging senior leadership and the long-maintained status quo, a ‘we tell you what we think you need to know’ approach and IT implementation hurdles (perceived or otherwise) so that often computer does say “No”. How the latest technology can best be applied, and scalable / future-proofed, to actually enhance the performance of both staff and ultimately the business is not an overnight thing. It’s our responsibility as an industry to help people better understand where to start, and provide evidence and solutions as to why a certain system or innovation is the right one for them.
Games are still providing the biggest buzz – applying game design and gamification principles to learning is going to revolutionise learner engagement. You couldn’t miss the games vibe as you walked around, whether that was companies offering to gamify your learning or those able to create learning games or both. It was great to meet so many people interested in our own ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ white paper on our stand too. Not read it yet? Here ya go…..
And just a quick sidenote too….
For all the technological advances and talk of engagement and learner-centred design, the vast majority of conference sessions and exhibition seminars were didactic Powerpoint presentations. What happened to practicing what we preach?
Keep an eye out for our exclusive interviews with some of the key players and thought leaders from Learning Technologies.
Unicorn partners, YUDU, have published a new white paper highlighting trends in corporate training and the impact of mobile devices in 2015. We have been working with YUDU on App development and are delighted to see the results of their research confirm how the economics of corporate training are shifting.
Mobile App developer YUDU Media’s latest white paper outlines technological trends in the training industry and how this impacts strategic planning for HR and Training professionals.
The paper deals with the economics of an industry which, for the past few years, has experienced double-digit growth year-on-year as companies race to fill skills shortages in new and cost-effective ways.
The main focus of the paper is on mobile devices, and how they are changing the sector. A great deal of attention has been paid to tablets in particular, and how some office environments have been reshaped through schemes like ‘Bring Your Own Device’.
Comparatively little industry attention has been given previously to mobile training and how it can impact internal programs, despite mounting evidence that it can stimulate e-learning progress amongst even older employees.
Another topic covered is the effect new software has on training.
Increasingly sophisticated Learning Management Systems, as well as easily accessible Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have catalyzed a change in how training professionals and HR Directors develop strategies for talent management, skills development and on-boarding.
Richard Stephenson, CEO of YUDU comments: “Training Managers who are already working on their mobile strategies know that mobile delivery can really enhance their training courses.
“Our research proves that delivery of mobile training can benefit e-learning throughout an organization and the aim of this white paper is to support this some of the strategies being developed in this area.”
The paper also provides some ideas, based on YUDU’s experience in developing enterprise applications for blue-chip clients, as to how enterprising HR and Training professionals can leverage these devices to provide better returns.
To download the white paper, click on this link and follow the instructions.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, believes leading global eLearning analyst and consultant Craig Weiss “has a great record for spotting trends” as he reacted to Unicorn’s learning and performance platform, SkillsServe, being ranked fifth overall and number one for financial services in Weiss’ 2015 Top 50 Global LMSs Report.
The annual report is viewed as the best authoritative and independent guide for global LMS vendors.
A review of 645 systems was conducted and whittled down to the top 50 based on various factors and analysis including on features, design, vertical reach, support/service, future thinking approach and processes.
The report, published on Saturday (24 January), saw SkillsServe move up from number eight in the 2014 Mid-Year Rankings Report to number five overall, while holding its position as the top system globally for financial services.
Weiss identified four ‘What’s Hot’ trends for 2015 in the report around Mobile, Gamification, Predicative Analysis and Integrations.
Peter admits he was delighted to see how closely those trends reflect Unicorn’s own views and 2015 development roadmap.
He said: “When it comes to mobile and native Apps, on-off sync and xAPI, SkillsServe was one of the first LMSs to provide on/off sync when we launched the CPD App in 2013. As Craig reports, this has changed from a nice to have to a must have feature, and Unicorn will be launching our exciting new SkillsServe App this spring.
“What Craig refers to as Predicative Analysis and Adaptive Learning is a core feature of Unicorn solutions. From the hugely successful Gap Fill tool that met the RDR needs of over 80% of the UK financial advisors in 2012, to our competence and role-based content mapping and diagnostic tools, SkillsServe excels at providing personalised learning paths to optimise learning effectiveness.”
On the subject of gamification, Peter insisted that while it was a much misused term there is no doubt adapting game principles to learning is the hottest topic of 2015.
He continued: “We believe it’s possible to make even the most unpromising compliance learning engaging, and even fun, which is why we invested recently in chart-topping game studio, Amuzo, and why our friends at Growth Engineering, the gurus of platform gamification, are a worthy number one in Craig’s rankings.
“Meanwhile we are fully in agreement with Craig’s observations around integration. Increasingly the learning management platform is seen as only part of a wider learning and HR ecosystem, and the ability for users to have seamless single sign-on, and for systems to exchange data securely and reliably has never been greater.
“As the TinCan xAPI gathers momentum we will also see more demand for seamless data transfer between LMS and LRS, or of course, like SkillsServe, you can have your TinCan LRS integrated within the platform itself.”
SkillsServe celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, with version five of the platform being officially unveiled, alongside Unicorn’s new in-build authoring tool eCreator, at Learning Technologies over the next two days (28-29 January).
Visitors to Learning Technologies will be able to find Unicorn on Stand 95 and discover why SkillsServe is the preferred choice for compliance plus learn all about Unicorn’s innovative new in-build authoring tool, eCreator.